Graduate Programs

Clinical Nurse Leader - Masters of Science in Nursing

The MSN Clinical Nurse Leader track prepares Registered Nurses to assume leadership roles in the provision and management of health care across all settings. Coursework focuses on developing advanced skills in advocacy, education, policy and organization, supervision, delegation, and interdisciplinary teamwork. Students are prepared to utilize knowledge, research, and evidence-based practice to design, implement, manage, and evaluate patient care initiatives in order to improve patient outcomes. The program starts every Fall semester.

Students who complete the MSN Clinical Nurse Leader track, including 400 hours practica, have completed the educational requirements needed to take the CNL Certification exam.

Admission Requirements

Students applying to the program must hold a valid, active license as an RN in the United States, a baccalaureate degree in Nursing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and have completed an undergraduate or graduate-level statistics course within five years of the application deadline.

Application Instructions

  • Apply to the College of Graduate Studies
  • Submit official transcripts for all post-secondary education
  • Submit a completed School of Nursing Graduate Nursing Application; the application deadline is March 1 for the Fall semester

All application materials must be submitted to

Admissions Processing
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214

Curriculum Changes

The Graduate Faculty recently completed an update of the curriculum requirements for the Clinical Nurse Leader track of the MSN program. These requirements are in effect for students starting the program in Fall 2012.

One of the most significant changes is the creation of thesis and non-thesis options for the track. Students who are planning to pursue a PhD will want to seriously consider the thesis option as a means of both preparing them for further graduate course work and strengthening their doctoral program applications.

Essentially, the difference between the two options is this:

  • Thesis option students will complete two clinical courses, two research courses, and a thesis.
  • Students who pursue the non-thesis option will complete three clinical courses and one research course.

You do not need to make this decision until you have completed NUR 503. However, you will want to think about and discuss it with your graduate faculty advisor.

Eligibility Criteria for CNL Exam

The Commission on Nurse Certification eligibility criteria for the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) examination includes a minimum of 400 clinical hours in a clinical immersion experience as part of a formal CNL education program. Students who select the thesis option will also need to take NUR 606 if they desire to take the CNL exam (AACN, 2011).

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Courses Pre-Fall 2012

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Courses Fall 2012

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Degree Planner Pre-Fall 2012

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Degree Planner Fall 2012 Thesis Track

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Degree Planner Fall 2012 Non-Thesis Track

The Commission on Nurse Certification’s CNL Certification Program

AACN’s White Paper on the Role of the Clinical Nurse Leader

Johnson & Johnson Nursing Notes: Clinical Nurse Leader